Architecture should be working on improving the environment of people in their homes, in their places of work, and in their places of recreation. It should be functional and pleasant, not just in the image of the architect's ego. -Norma Merrick Sklarek


5.1. Define how you intend to live and characterize the best place in which to do it. Before you do any final Drawings of your site or floor plans, render a graphic, rough sketch depicting three basic questions: How will I approach the house? How will I arrange the living spaces? How will interior/exterior relate to one another? Consider whether your project will require the services of an Architect, Designer, or Stock Plan Service. Take a serious look at Connell's Homing Instinct. Interview “friendly” Architects or designers who are familiar with doing a project similar to yours, asking how best you might work together.


5.2. Sketch a floor plan based on your characterization of how you intend to live in the new or remodeled home. Let this sketch mature through several revisions without getting bogged down in precise details. By preparing several "Schemas", the Architect, Designer, or Stock Plan Service has a basis for understanding your needs. Refer to Myrvang's Home Design Handbook. This process is an artistic endeavor. Engage the services of a design professional on an hourly basis, and don’t be afraid to scrutinize their performance. If you must do so (and, I don’t advise it) and computer-aided design is of interest to you, utilize “Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Pro 6.” It’s expensive but you WILL NOT be satisfied with the cheaper versions.


5.3. Formalize the floor plan by consulting with a design professional. Whether you choose to work with an Architect, Designer, or engage a Stock Plan Service, you'll need to take your ideas and sketches into "Design Development" so your floor plan can evolve into a complete set of Drawings. There are many variables that contribute to how the Drawings are created, and it's usually in your best interest to rely on professional design services to determine foundation details, framing plans, elevations, roof system, code compliance, and layout for heating, plumbing, and electrical services. Read Sam Clark’s Independent Builder: Designing & Building a House Your Own Way.


5.4. Reproduce 8 copies of your complete set of Drawings. Usually, two sets accompany your permit application while the other six sets are circulated among contractors and suppliers for their proposals. If changes to the Drawings are made by the Building Department you'll need to note these changes on all copies so contractors and suppliers base their proposals on any new changes, but this is nearly impossible to determine until the “approved” Drawings are returned to you. Ask the Building Department how long until the Drawings will be returned to you so you can anticipate when to begin site development. Review McHugh's Working Drawing Handbook.


5.5. Retain the official "approved" set of Drawings from the Building Department at your home office. The other "approved" set of Drawings remains at the Building Department for their files. Note corrections or changes to the Drawings that may affect proposals by contractors and suppliers. The other six sets that have been in circulation for proposals are for field use during construction but be absolutely certain to note any changes on them so there’s no confusion as to the work that needs to be performed. Any work done on your project, which is not represented in the Drawings, will need to be illustrated and kept for future reference. These are your "As-Built Drawings" and, when your project is completed, they will be a reminder of what was accomplished in the field and not recorded in the "approved" set of Drawings. Spend a weekend with Leger’s Complete Building Construction.


5.6. Collect all copies of Drawings from contractors and suppliers. Often, contractors will write notes and sketch on the margins of these field copies, and by retaining field copies there's a source for future reference to their notes and sketches. Also, the "As-Built Drawings” provide supplemental information for those details not represented in the Drawings.


5.7. If possible, make certain all field notes are collected from contractors and suppliers for future reference. Store "Approved Drawings, Field Drawings, and As-Built Drawings” in the "Cardboard Box Files."


Home Plans

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Shopping for Your Home Design

The most important thing about shopping for your home design is for consumers to do their homework prior to final selection of a residential designer, stock plan service, or architect.

There are some questions folks should answer for themselves prior to and during the search process.

Some of the answers help form other questions and highlight important considerations for selecting the right design firm.


Drawings provide dimensions and layout for your residential, architectural design. Drawings depict a homestyle which will meet the needs of your family's lifestyle.

Can you define how you want to live on a day-by-day basis?

Here are the 32 universal elements common to all architectural Drawings.


Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Pro 6.
Boise: Chief Architect, 2005.

Clark, Sam. Independent Builder: Designing & Building a House.
Boston: Chelsea Green, 1996.

Connell, John. Homing Instinct.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.

Leger, Eugene. Complete Building Construction.
New York: Macmillan, 1994 4th.

McHugh, Robert. Working Drawing Handbook.
New York: Van Nostrand, 1982. (Classic approach to working drawings)

Myrvang, June. Home Design Handbook.
New York: Holt, 1992.

Traister, John. Home Inspection Handbook.
Carlsbad: Craftsman, 1997.


Homeing Instinct by John Connel
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"Homing Instinct" with Guest John Connell

Tom interviews John Connell.

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